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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved two new programs on November 19 that allow licensed companies to grant and charge for autonomous rideshare vehicles, TechCrunch reported. This means companies that are launching robotaxi services in California will be able to charge and offer driverless rideshare if they can navigate the new approval process.
At the moment, the robotaxi industry is emerging. A robotaxi, also known as a self-driving taxi or a driverless taxi, is based on the use of an autonomous car. Industry officials have been lobbying the CPUC for months to consider a rule change that would allow operators to charge fares and offer driverless car rides.
“We are pleased that the CPUC has voted today to approve a state regulatory framework for commercial autonomous ride-hailing,” Waymo’s head of policy in California Annabel Chang said in an emailed statement.
Potential robotaxi operators will need to obtain appropriate approvals from the CPUC and the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and meet certain reporting requirements. In addition, they are required to submit a safety plan and quarterly reports to the CPUC with aggregated and anonymous information on pickup and drop-off locations for individual trips, availability, volume of wheelchair accessible trips, and service levels for those with lower socioeconomic status. Companies are also required to provide details such as the type of fuel used by the vehicles, miles traveled, and passenger miles traveled.
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